Season 2010-11

Following the successful promotion effort in 2009-10, Vale approached this season with just one objective in mind – East of Scotland Premier Division survival. It was duly achieved, and with a creditable seventh place finish despite a tumultuous start to the season which saw the early departure of a manager, squad changes and later a brief flirtation with the relegation zone. Despite losing a third of all games played across their league and cup campaigns, Vale didn’t look the least bit out of place in the East of Scotland’s top division, only ever looking second best to the opposition on a few occasions. A large number of draws that could have been wins and losses that could have been draws were largely attributable to the team’s finishing sadly not being up to the standard of their general play.

With promotion winning boss Rab Paget having announced his intention to stand down before the end of the previous season, the manager’s job was passed to coach Stewart Churchill, who set about gathering a squad for the coming campaign. Leaving Victoria Park were top scorer Aaron Somerville, who accepted an offer from East Region Junior FA Super League side Newtongrange Star, goalkeeper Mark Wilson who returned to Leithen Rovers, Ricky Burke who signed for Heriot-Watt University and defender Paul Thomson who went to study at Dundee University. Also exiting for pastures new were striker Steve Dongo, alongside midfielders Ousman Sonko and Alex Munro. Certainly in comparison to previous seasons it wasn’t a huge number of departures, but it still left Churchill with a squad in need of bolstering and he made a number of significant signings, revisiting former club Leith Athletic for striker Steve Radzynski, midfielders Jamie Lauder and Chris Beaton and defender Andy Milligan. Also arriving at the club was local striker Aaron Brunton from Leithen Rovers, former Edinburgh City and Penicuik Athletic midfielder Graeme Cole and goalkeeper Ross Gilpin from Preston Athletic. Perhaps the most significant signing though was of ex-Hearts, Forfar Athletic and Berwick Rangers player Robbie Horn, who came to the club in a player/coach role. Also joining him in the dugout was coach Leighton Jones, son of former Vale manager Mervyn, who completed the management team alongside coach Stuart Gray and goalkeeping coach David McGinley, who had both remained from last season.

The first pre-season game against Coldstream saw Paul Crawford head a first half double to put the Streamers ahead, but half time substitute trialist Danny Noon had an eventful ten minutes on the pitch, pulling a goal back early in the second half, before setting up Kerr Dodds for the equaliser and then having to go off injured. A few days later regular pre-season opponents Kirriemuir Thistle visited Victoria Park with goals from Kerr Dodds, Steve Radzynski and Aaron Brunton putting Vale in control before Gordon McDonald grabbed a late consolation for the Angus side. Vale continued their unbeaten pre-season record with comfortable victories over Border Amateur side Duns and Northern Alliance club Shields United, but came down to earth with an almighty crash in the Innerleithen derby match against Leithen Rovers. A collapse against their Border Amateur League neighbours saw Rovers race into a stunning 4-0 lead after just 32 minutes, with an Alan McMath strike in the first minute followed closely by another from Robin Shek and another two from McMath before half time. Vale came more into the game in the second half, but striker McMath grabbed a fifth, while a total of just two shots on target from Vale during the ninety, both comfortably dealt with by ex-Vale keeper Mark Wilson, told it’s own story.

Vale's Gavin Tainsh leaves two players trailing in his wake during the pre-season game against Shields United
Vale’s Gavin Tainsh leaves two players trailing in his wake during the pre-season game against Shields United

Vale got back to winning ways a couple of days later against Berwick Rangers Reserves, who were preparing to re-enter the East of Scotland League, with first half goals from Steve Radzynski and Scott Moffat bringing a 2-0 victory at Old Shielfield. The final pre-season game was against SPL side Hibernian, who travelled to Innerleithen with a squad containing no less than eight first team players. Vale took a surprise lead in the eleventh minute as defender Steven Thicot, under pressure from Steve Radzynski, put the ball past keeper Mark Brown. Hibs equalised shortly before half time as Vale keeper Darren Walker was adjudged to have brought down Lewis Stevenson and Lee Currie put away the resulting penalty. Danny Handling put the visitors ahead in the 65th minute but Steve Radzynski was presented with a great chance to equalise as a Gavin Tainsh cross found him arriving at the back post, but the striker agonisingly knocked it inches wide. Handling grabbed his second to ensure the win for the Edinburgh giants, but it had been a creditable performance from Vale.

The real action – and Vale’s first Premier Division game in just over six years – kicked off with a visit from Heriot-Watt University on August 14th and a Scott Moffat goal seven minutes from time brought a deserved win for Vale, who had been much the better side. However, the following Wednesday Vale crashed at home to Selkirk, goals from Des Sutherland and Jason Cockburn sealing the win for the Souters, who had goalkeeper John Dodds in outstanding form. What had seemingly been a run-of-the-mill league game turned out to be anything but, as it firstly turned out to be Stuart Churchill’s final game in change when behind-the-scenes concerns which had cropped up during pre-season came to a head following the match and the end result was a shock decision by the club to part company with the manager after just two games of the season. Secondly, it transpired after the match that Selkirk had listed an extra substitute on the team lines, as they had in their match against Civil Service Strollers, and the East of Scotland League decided to declare both games void and ordering them to be replayed. The decision was appealed by Selkirk, eventually going in front of the Scottish Football Association in January, who upheld the East of Scotland League’s ruling.

A Scott Moffat goal got Vale off to a winning league start against Heriot-Watt University
A Scott Moffat goal got Vale off to a winning league start against Heriot-Watt University
John Hall battles with Selkirk's Des Sutherland during Stewart Churchill's final game in charge - a game which would be later declared void due to Selkirk naming too many substitutes.
John Hall battles with Selkirk’s Des Sutherland during Stewart Churchill’s final game in charge – a game which would be later declared void due to Selkirk naming too many substitutes.

With the manager’s chair empty once again, Vale quickly moved to offer the position to Robbie Horn (left). His first game in charge was among the toughest challenges in East of Scotland football as Vale travelled to Ainslie Park to face Spartans. Despite a spirited performance, goals from Donal Henretty and Gavin Malin ensured it would be no winning start for Horn, who also saw Jamie Lauder red-carded for a second bookable offence late in the match. Having reached a final of a cup competition in each of the preceeding three seasons, Vale had high hopes of progressing to another one and the Image Printers East of Scotland Qualifying Cup afforded them the first opportunity, with Vale landing a first round trip to Hawick Royal Albert. Striker Steve Radzynski opened his account for the club with five goals and the final score of 10-0 could have been seen as something of a let off for the Royalists. 3-0 up after just five minutes of play, Vale went on to hit the woodwork half a dozen times and miss a penalty before the final whistle brought some relief for Vale’s punch-drunk opponents. The second round was a home tie against Spartans who recorded another 2-0 victory over the Innerleithen men with goals from Robbie Manson and David Etale.

The draw for the First Round of the Scottish Cup saw a repeat of the previous season’s Second Round clash as Highland League side Keith were once again the visitors to Victoria Park. Although Keith repeated the previous year’s 3-1 winning scoreline, it was a very different game with Vale 1-0 up at half time after John Hall gave Vale the lead in the eleventh minute and keeper Darren Walker had superbly saved Dean Donaldson’s penalty and his follow-up effort. But early in the second half Keith were awarded another penalty, which was this time dispatched by Cammy Keith, who went on to complete his hat-trick. Prior to the match, a minute’s silence was held in memory of former goalkeeper Ronnie Tolmie, who had sadly passed away the previous week.
With Robbie Horn implementing his own tactical ideas on a squad who had prepared for and started the season under Stewart Churchill, it was inevitable that some players found themselves on the fringes of the team, or struggling to adapt to a different playing style and this resulted in some comings and goings. Captain Mike Stewart and defender Gavin Tainsh departed for Leith Athletic, following in the footsteps of striker Aaron Brunton and defender Achraf Chbira, who had previously left for Gala Fairydean and Coldstream respectively, as well as Ross Gilpin, who returned to Preston Athletic without having played a competitive game for the club after failing to depose Darren Walker from the goalkeeping position. Coming in were Mike Osborne, back for a second spell at the club, ex-Craigroyston players David Anderson and Graeme Hare, another back-up goalkeeper in David Livie, former Stenhousemuir defender Ricky Miller, midfielder Paul Doohan, who had been playing in the Irish League with Derry City, former Peebles and Tynecastle defender Aaron Killin and midfielder Kevin Bracks on loan from Bonnyrigg Rose. In the dugout too, coach Leighton Jones, who had left along with Churchill, was replaced by former Craigroyston manager Jamie Burrell.

Back in the league, Vale experienced mixed fortunes, with a poor display against Whitehill Welfare at Fergusson Park resulting in a 4-0 defeat before picking up another three points in midweek game against Heriot-Watt University thanks to another strike from Scott Moffat. Four draws followed against Edinburgh City, Edinburgh University, Civil Service Strollers and Selkirk. The Selkirk match turned out to be the last meaningful football Vale would play for two and a half months as heavy snowfall hit the whole of the country, wiping out football fixtures across the region and paralysing public transport. It wasn’t the only bit of weather-related misery Vale were to suffer, a burst pipe in the Victoria Park pavilion due to the freezing temperatures saw the building flooded out, causing extensive damage and putting the building out of use for several weeks. But some sterling work by local tradesmen to restored the interior and after the work was completed the affected areas looked good as new.

Having overcome Hawick Royal Albert in the Second Round of the South Region Challenge Cup, this time by a more modest scoreline of 6-0, the Third Round meeting with Preston Athletic eventually went ahead at the seventh time of asking in early January, with a last minute goal from Kerr Dodds putting Vale through to the last eight. Like the previous year, the cup had been played in regional sections with the Quarter Finals being the first all-in round and Vale’s South of Scotland League opponents were St Cuthberts Wanderers. With the Kirkcudbright side having posted some impressive results in the Scottish Cup, defeating Highland League Fraserburgh after a replay, it looked like Vale were in for a tough challenge, but it proved not to be the case as a Kerr Dodds double, in addition to strikes from Scott Moffat and John Hall eased Vale through. The semi final paired Vale again with Spartans and the Innerleithen men got off to a great start at Ainslie Park as Steve Radzynski was felled in the area by Spartans’ Dean Hoskins in the first minute and Paul Doohan netted the resulting penalty. But Alex King fired home a superb goal just four minutes later and six minutes into the second half a shot by Keith McLeod hit off the post and fell to Ross Archibald, who stuck the ball away to put Spartans in the lead. Vale received a further blow as midfielder Paul Greenhill was rather harshly red-carded for a foul on Omar Kader and Gavin Malin then made sure of Spartans’ place in the final with another goal.

Andy Martin in action against Hawick Royal Albert
Andy Martin in action against Hawick Royal Albert
Steve Radzynski slides for a ball against St Cuthbert's Wanderers during Vale's run to the South Region Challenge Cup semi finals.
Steve Radzynski slides for a ball against St Cuthbert’s Wanderers during Vale’s run to the South Region Challenge Cup semi finals.

In the King Cup a closely fought Second Round match saw Easthouses Lily take the lead twice only for Vale to equalise twice before a Paul Doohan penalty six minutes from time ensured their passage into a Third Round meeting with Stirling University, where an early goal by Swiss striker Abraham Keller was enough to see the students through. Vale drew Stirling University in the final cup competition of the season, the East of Scotland League Cup, and recorded their only victory of the season over the students, with a late goal earning a place in the Second Round and another meeting with Preston Athletic. But two own-goals gave Preston a half time lead and although John Hall pulled one back in the second half, Vale found their erstwhile back-up keeper Ross Gilpin in tremendous form and couldn’t find another goal to take the tie into extra time.

Vale experienced a couple of hard to take league defeats as firstly a game against Whitehill Welfare at Victoria Park saw Vale the better side, but again found an opposition goalkeeper in superb form as Whitehill’s Youseff Bejaoui pulled off save after save. It appeared to be heading for a scoreless draw though, before Paul Greenhill was adjudged to have gone in high on Danny Taylor while challenging for a ball at the edge of the area in injury time and a controversially awarded penalty was converted by Scott Gormley. Then, in a midweek game at Saughton Enclosure, a couple of defensive errors saw Alan McDonaugh and Mark Kelly gifted first-half goals for Lothian Thistle. An injury-hit Vale squad rallied in the second half and David Anderson pulled a goal back, but a poorly defended corner led to a third Thistle goal by Lloyd Dignan and despite Thistle having a player sent off, Anderson scoring a second and Vale laying siege to the Thistle goal, the capital side held out.

Having looked to be heading for a pretty comfortable mid-table finish, this unfortunate spell, coupled with the three main relegation candidates Heriot-Watt University, Selkirk and Preston Athletic picking up some points, Vale found themselves sucked into the edges of the relegation whirlpool. But a hard-won point against Stirling University, a win over Selkirk in the controversially replayed game from earlier in the season and a good three points away from home against Civil Service Strollers put Vale in a strong position and made relegation extremely unlikely, but it wasn’t until the third last league game and a hard-fought draw at home against a Preston Athletic side desperately trying the beat the drop, did relegation become mathematically impossible. In an indication of just how tight most of the Premier Division was, Vale actually went into their final league game against Spartans knowing that a win, coupled with other results going their way, could see them finish in third place. But a 4-2 loss meant a seventh place finish, only four points behind third-placed Lothian Thistle, which was still a good achievement for a team coming up from the First Division.

In the end of season Player of the Year awards, captain Paul Lee – unlucky to have been overlooked for awards in the past couple of seasons – finally got his hands on a couple of awards at the third time of asking as he was voted Players Player of the Year and Supporters Player of the Year. Darren Walker became the first goalkeeper in eleven years to win an award, as he captured Presidents Player of the Year, while Managers Player of the Year went to Jamie Lauder, who had also had an outstanding season. Top Scorer slot was shared for the second time in three years, as both Scott Moffat and Steve Radzynski bagged a dozen goals each.

2010-11 Fixtures & Results
Central Taxis East of Scotland Premier Division
14/08/10 Heriot-Watt University
(H)
1-0
Moffat
24/08/10 Spartans
(A)
0-2
28/08/10 Edinburgh City
(A)
1-1
Moffat
02/10/10 Whitehill Welfare
(A)
0-4
05/10/10 Heriot-Watt University
(A)
1-0
Moffat
09/10/10 Edinburgh City
(H)
2-2
Cole 2
16/10/10 Edinburgh University
(H)
1-1
Milligan
30/10/10 Civil Service Strollers
(H)
0-0
20/11/10 Selkirk
(A)
2-2
Moffat, Lauder (pen)
22/01/11 Preston Athletic
(A)
4-0
Moffat 2, Cole, Dodds
05/02/11 Stirling University
(A)
2-4
Anderson, Radzynski
05/03/11 Whitehill Welfare
(H)
0-1
08/03/11 Lothian Thistle
(A)
2-3
Anderson 2
02/04/11 Stirling University
(H)
1-1
Miller
13/04/11 Selkirk
(H)
2-1
Gillon, Lauder
16/04/11 Civil Service Strollers
(A)
2-0
Anderson, Radzynski
20/04/11 Tynecastle
(A)
1-1
Moffat
27/04/11 Edinburgh University
(A)
2-0
Lauder, Radzynski
30/04/11 Tynecastle
(H)
1-1
Radzynski
04/05/11 Preston Athletic
(H)
1-1
Anderson
07/05/11 Lothian Thistle
(H)
2-0
Radzynski 2 (1 pen)
14/05/11 Spartans
(H)
2-4
Moffat, Gillon
Scottish Cup
First Round
25/09/10 Keith
(H)
1-3
Hall
South Region Challenge Cup
Second Round
18/09/10 Hawick Royal Albert
(H)
6-0
Cole 2, Lauder 2 (pens), Dodds, Moffat
Third Round
18/01/11 Preston Athletic
(A)
1-0
Dodds
Quarter Final
12/02/11 St Cuthbert Wanderers
(H)
4-1
Moffat, Hall, Dodds 2
Semi Final
19/03/11 Spartans
(A)
1-3
Doohan (pen)
East of Scotland League Cup
First Round
09/04/11 Stirling University
(A)
1-0
Radzynski
Second Round
23/04/11 Preston Athletic
(A)
1-2
Hall
Image Printers East of Scotland Qualifying Cup
First Round
04/09/10 Hawick Royal Albert
(A)
10-0
Moffat 2, Radzynski 5, Lauder, Cole 2
Second Round
11/09/10 Spartans
(H)
0-2
King Cup
Second Round
26/02/11 Easthouses Lily
(A)
3-2
Lee, Anderson, Doohan (pen)
Third Round
26/03/11 Stirling University
(A)
0-1
2010-11 Central Taxis East of Scotland League Premier Division – Final Standings 
Pos
Team
Played
Won
Drawn
Lost
Goals For
Goals Against
Goal Difference
Points
1
Spartans (Champions)
22
17
4
1
62
18
+44
55
2
Stirling University
22
12
5
5
58
28
+30
41
3
Lothian Thistle
22
10
4
8
40
36
+4
34
4
Whitehill Welfare
22
9
5
8
32
29
+3
32
5
Edinburgh University
22
8
8
6
27
26
+1
32
6
Edinburgh City
22
6
13
3
32
30
+2
31
7
Vale of Leithen
22
7
9
6
30
29
+1
30
8
Civil Service Strollers
22
8
5
9
29
37
-8
29
9
Tynecastle
22
6
6
10
32
35
-3
24
10
Selkirk
22
4
5
13
31
54
-23
17
11
Preston Athletic (Relegated)
22
4
5
13
30
61
-31
17
12
Heriot-Watt University (Relegated)
22
3
7
12
27
47
-20
16
2010-11 Full Results
CSS
EdC
EdUni
HWU
LoTh
PrAth
Selk
Spart
StUni
Tyne
VoL
WW
Civil Service Strollers
1-1
1-0
0-2
2-3
3-1
3-0
0-5
0-4
1-0
0-2
1-2
Edinburgh City
1-1
3-3
0-0
0-0
2-1
1-0
1-5
0-2
1-1
1-1
3-1
Edinburgh University
2-2
0-3
1-1
1-1
0-0
2-0
3-3
0-0
2-1
0-2
1-0
Heriot-Watt University
1-1
1-2
0-1
1-3
2-4
2-1
0-3
3-3
0-2
0-1
2-2
Lothian Thistle
1-2
1-1
3-1
2-3
3-2
3-2
1-1
2-3
2-1
3-2
1-1
Preston Athletic
1-2
2-2
0-3
2-1
2-5
1-1
2-5
0-6
1-4
0-4
3-2
Selkirk
1-4
1-1
1-4
3-3
3-2
6-0
1-2
1-3
3-2
2-2
0-4
Spartans
4-1
1-1
3-0
5-0
2-0
4-1
4-0
2-1
2-0
2-0
1-2
Stirling University
4-0
2-3
0-0
4-1
4-2
3-2
6-0
1-2
1-3
4-2
0-2
Tynecastle
1-0
3-3
1-2
4-2
0-2
2-2
1-2
1-1
0-4
1-1
2-0
Vale of Leithen
0-0
2-2
1-1
1-0
2-0
1-1
2-1
2-4
1-1
1-1
0-1
Whitehill Welfare
1-4
1-0
1-0
2-2
0-1
0-2
2-2
0-1
2-2
2-1
4-0
Goalscorers 2010-11
Total
Player

EoSL
Premier
Division

Scottish Cup
South
Region
Cup 
Image Printers
Cup
EoS
League
Cup
King Cup
12
Scott Moffat
8
2
2
12
Steve Radzynski
6
5
1
7
Graeme Cole
3
2
2
6
David Anderson
5
1
6
Jamie Lauder
3
2
1
5
Kerr Dodds
1
4
3
John Hall
1
1
1
2
Paul Doohan
1
1
2
Darren Gillon
2
1
Paul Lee
1
1
Ricky Miller
1
1
Andy Milligan
1
2010-11 Player Appearances (Sub Appearances)
Andy Martin
Mid
18 (6)
Ricky Miller
Def
15 (1)
David Anderson
Fwd
12 (4)
Paul Greenhill
Mid
28 (1)
Andy Milligan
Def
17 (4)
Chris Beaton
Mid/Def
19 (9)
Graeme Hare
Fwd
2 (3)
Scott Moffat
Fwd
27 (4)
Kevin Bracks
Mid
8 (1)
John Hall
Def
21 (2)
Keith Murray
Fwd
1
Aaron Brunton
Fwd
1 (2)
Sammy Hassan
Mid
(1)
Mike Osborne
Mid
5 (2)
Achraf Chbira
Def
(1)
Chris Hill
Gkpr
1
Andy Penman
Fwd
(2)
Graeme Cole
Mid
18 (1)
Robbie Horn
Def
(1)
Steve Radzynski
Fwd
20 (8)
Kerr Dodds
Mid
19 (1)
Aaron Killin
Def
5
Mike Stewart
Def
6
Paul Doohan
Mid
7 (2)
Jamie Lauder
Mid
28
Rory Stewart
Def
(1)
Stephen Doohan
Mid
3
Paul Lee
Def
32
Gavin Tainsh
Def
3 (1)
Darren Gillon
Mid
15 (7)
David Livie
Gkpr
1 (1)
Darren Walker
Gkpr
31